2007 - 2022

Raith Rovers: A ‘football related decision’

Raith Rovers decision to sign David Goodwillie has been met with a mixture of incredulity, revulsion and silence from players and supporters. This morning the Courier could only manage a lukewarm “in a move which is guaranteed to prove divisive among the club’s support the Fife outfit swooped …”. Only eleven paragraphs later explaining “Goodwillie was branded a rapist during a 2017 civil court case and was ordered to pay Denise Clair, who waived her right to to anonymity £100,00.”

The club has been rocked by a series of resignations and condemnations but tonight issued an incredible statement saying: “As David has previously played for Raith Rovers earlier in his career, we consider him to be part of Raith Rovers Football Club. The management team is familiar with David’s career and background and – in particular – his footballing ability. That is our foremost consideration, and we believe that he will strengthen the Raith Rovers playing squad.”

“Please be assured that as a community football club we fully acknowledge this signing has divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders; We aim to rebuild that trust. While acknowledging the gravity of what happened ten years ago, as a club we fully support and encourage rehabilitation, and many factors influenced our signing. First and foremost, this was a football related decision.”

Please be assured.

This is an incredible and frankly disgraceful statement.

The takeaway is “he’ll score goals so shut up.”

Already the club has seen (female) players, sponsors, top fans and employees walk.

The writer Val McDermid has led the way saying: “I have this morning ended my lifelong support of Raith Rovers over their signing of the rapist David Goodwillie. I have cancelled next season’s shirt sponsorship over this disgusting and despicable move. This shatters any claim to be a community or family club.”

Marie Penman who had been the club’s Employability officer with the Raith Rovers Community Foundation told Bella: “I’m shocked and dismayed by Rovers’ decision to sign David Goodwillie, especially as it comes just a day after the horrendous allegations against Mason Greenwood. Football clubs need to think carefully about the message they are sending out by supporting players like these and as a woman, a feminist and the mother of a teenage daughter, I feel disgusted that my team thought this was a good signing. My heart goes out to rape survivors across Scotland. I read the full testimony from the Goodwillie civil case and it’s truly shocking – I’m appalled that so many men think that it was just some lad having a laugh.”

Other key figures have already resigned. There will be more to follow. The club’s position is untenable and grotesque, the slowness of their realisation of this is astonishing.

But in a Scottish football culture that can appoint Malky Mackay – maybe this isn’t a surprise? But the gap between civil (and civilised) culture and elements of Scottish football remain a chasm. In a society still full of toxic masculinity this signing and the club’s response is shameful.


You can support Martin Glass’s ‘Raith Fans Against Goodwillie’ fundraiser for Rape Crisis Scotland here:

Martin Glass is fundraising for Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline (justgiving.com)

Comments (36)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    Proud of all the folk who have taken action. Excellent article as usual Mr Small . The ghastly underbelly of our society obvious for all to see….. especially coming on the heels of the Metropolitan Police apology. But when you have a toxic Prime Minister who thinks he can go on trashing and lying etc…all the scum in our country feel empowered.

    1. John Boyd says:

      What’s Gordon Brown’s wise words on this not inconsequential matter to any “lifelong Raith supporter?”

      1. Iain MacLean says:

        The morality of this decision goes against “decency”, in any way you would define that word, especially a community club!

        Two other aspects, the economics and footballing side of the decision!

        Business and fans are deserting the club in droves, surely those in charge could have foreseen this, where will the money come from?

        Who would wish to play alongside someone such as this and what does this do for team morale and results on the park?

        Rehabilitation is not only desirable, it’s a must. In this case rehabilitation in the glare and gold fish bowl of Scottish football is not desirable nor possible! If football is to be his chosen career, a league outside of Scotland would be a wiser choice.

        The outcome of this action is obvious, chaos, the player moves on, the board resign, a new board is formed and the club moves on.

  2. Concerned says:

    What about rehabilitation ? I am not an apologist for heinous crimes such as rape but mob rule (that the first minister is involved in) is frightening. Are we saying that the perpetrator should never work again? We live in a society that has a judicial system that sets penalties after which the perpetrator is supposed to reintegrate into society unless life imprisonment is the tariff. Other penalties after release can include future restrictions on places of residence or employment such as those on the sex offenders register. However, if the perpetrator is legally allowed to do this job I believe it is wrong for the first minister to become involved in this matter.

    1. Rehabilitation is a key issue even for people who have committed serious crimes.

      However Goodwillie has shown no remorse whatsoever and the option isn’t between “never working again” it is being questioned as to why he should be rewarded and paid handsomely and put in a position of role model.

      Of over 52,000 rapes that took place in England and Wales last year only 1.3% were prosecuted.

      1. Abasifreke says:

        Concerned makes the point well about rehabilitation – we have to take this more seriously to build a good society -if we do not allow Goodwillie to ply his trade then what sort of jobs do we think he is fit for then? Is this a good society?

        Similarly, you write “Of over 52,000 rapes that took place in England and Wales last year only 1.3% were prosecuted” Surely that should read “Of over 52,000 rapes REPORTED in England and Wales last year only 1.3% were prosecuted.” I believe they only become ‘rapes’ once the accused is convicted of the crime, before that it is an accusation. Again it is imperative that we are clear and accurate on these things otherwise inaccuracy and sloppiness creates the background to misunderstanding, unfairness and, ultimately, the development of a poor sluggish society.

        One other point: “Paid handsomely?” at Clyde and Raith Rovers??? I don’t think that is true.

    2. Drew Anderson says:

      Fair point about rehabilitation in general, but not with this player specifically due to his well documented lack of remorse.

      If Raith were a win-at-all-costs, nakedly commercial club you could just about see where they’re coming from. But they can’t justify acting and speaking as they have, whilst simultaneously claiming to be a community club.

      1. Chris Connolly* says:

        There’s a problem here, Drew, in that Goodwillie claims he is innocent. If he expresses remorse that could be taken as an admission of guilt and he might find that the police look into the matter again. His position is that he isn’t remorseful because he hasn’t done anything to be remorseful about, and he’s not going to risk another investigation that might lead to him going to prison.

        Where there are no witnesses it’s terribly difficult for a victim to prove that she didn’t give consent. By the same token it’s also difficult for an alleged rapist to claim that she did. Because an offence has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, the onus on the complainant to justify her case is as good as impossible, so in a criminal court she is almost certain to lose. That a civil court found him guilty on the balance of probabilities is some consolation for the victim, but a verdict doesn’t really “prove” anything.

        I was in Sheffield, and a regular at Bramall Lane, when Ched Evans returned to United after his release from prison. I took the view that, since he had served his sentence, to punish him again by preventing him from following his trade was unreasonable. This case is different because Goodwillie is perceived to have raped and got away with it.

        (Later, Evans was exonerated on appeal and the media stopped referring to him as “Rapist Ched Evans.” Again, a new verdict didn’t, and couldn’t alter the truth; he didn’t metamorphose from a rapist to a non-rapist; it was just that a different set of people came to a different conclusion. Maybe he raped the complainant; maybe he didn’t. Nobody apart from the people involved know what really happened.)

        To be fair to the management of Raith, they must be wondering why it was OK for Goodwillie to play for Clyde, but not for the Rovers. It’s hard to see how switching from one club to another makes his alleged offence any more despicable than it was before.

        Other players have been accused of rape, been found not guilty, or had charges against them dropped, and not been pursued in the civil courts even though, if they had been, they might have been found to have committed the offence. If Goodwillie is banned from playing for Raith then Nile Ranger and Robin Van Persie are among players who should count themselves lucky to have been allowed to carry on playing without having the “rapist” stigma attached to them.

        As a final point, players have returned to action after crimes of violence such as armed robbery, beating people up in the street, bottling night clubbers in the face and killing innocent people by drunken driving. While rape is a horrific, vicious crime committed by appalling men it can reasonably argued that all the others in the list are in the same category; so why haven’t supporters resigned en masse when THOSE guys came out of prison and walked straight back into professional football? The day that Graham Rix ended his sentence for sex offences against a young girl he was taken on at Chelsea to work with the club’s youngsters! I don’t recall Chelsea getting anything like the flak that Raith Rovers have taken over David Goodwillie.

        1. Drew Anderson says:

          Fair point Chris, I hadn’t considered the implications of showing contrition.

  3. Derek says:

    I’m scunnered. Raith were always my “wee team” – my dad took me to see Hearts, but he had a pal in Kirkaldy – – and I went to see Rovers with his son, who’s ages with me.

    I KB-ed Hearts when a Lithuanian gangster bought them; I wrote to them, saying that I wouldn’t be back until he was gone, and Raith became my big team.

    What now? Cowdenbeath?

    1. We are de kings of fife says:

      Raith were always the wee team and will continue to be so..

  4. @ Bella Caledonia Editor says:

    I had a blether with a retired procurator fiscal last night.

    The legal position, in this case (as in so many accusations of rape), is that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that that accused had committed rape, which is what’s required to pursue a successful prosecution in our criminal law, but only enough to show that he was more likely than not to have committed rape, which is all that’s required in our civil law. Basically, the public prosecutor looked at the evidence against the accused, judged that it was only strong enough to secure a ‘not proven’ verdict in a criminal court, and decided on that basis not to pursue the case.

    The question still remains, however, as to whether or not David Goodwillie, who has been established as a probable rapist, is morally fit to be employed as a professional footballer.

    1. Mr Chips says:

      Devil’s advocate time: what sort of job should he be allowed to do?

      1. @ Mr Chips says:

        He should be at liberty to do any job he chooses, providing that he doesn’t pose an unacceptable risk to others while doing that job and that the assessment of that risk is evidence-based.

        1. Mr Chips says:

          That’s a fair assessment. Pro footballer seems to tick all your requirements.

          I have no idea about football but football clubs are commercial enterprises so it feels fair not to sign him if that risks ticket sales. It’s a bit of a cold-hearted argument, though, and I don’t see anyone making it in public, even though it must be at the forefront of Raith Rovers’ belated decision.

          1. @ Mr Chips says:

            But Raith Rovers did sign Goodwillie. It was this signing that led to the protest by many within and without the club, who argued on the evidence of his having been found liable for the rape of a woman in a civil court 10 years again, the Crown having previously found insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case against him, that he is morally unfit to play for the club.

            The club is currently negotiating with Goodwillie to annul the contract it has with him. If the agent, through whom Goodwillie negotiated his signing, is worth his or her salt, Goodwillie will no doubt have grounds for compensation.

  5. Ramon says:

    I wouldn’t be happy if a rapist played for my club… so respect to the Raith Rovers fans, captain and employability officer who have left. Can’t have been easy.

    At the same time, if we as a society believe that individuals who commit certain crimes should be prohibited from pursuing certain careers, then it would be helpful if the law made explicit which professions.

    1. @ Ramon says:

      A ‘probable’ rapist, Ramon; individuals who have ‘probably’ committed certain crimes.

      It wasn’t proven beyond reasonable doubt that Goodwillie did what he was accused of doing; it was only shown that he more likely than not did do it, which is not enough to secure a criminal conviction.

      The question is: do we want to change the criminal law to ensure that ‘probably did it’ is enough to secure a conviction and all the penalities such a conviction entails, or do we continue to err on the side of caution?

  6. Also Concerned says:

    It seems that ‘probable rapist’ David Goodwillie must be punished, and if the law won’t do it… But the man is surely allowed to make a living? As in fact he has been (with Clyde FC) for several years since the court case in 2016. Same job, new employer. The idea that Goodwillie isn’t ‘morally fit’ to be a footballer is laughable. Footballers may or may not be role models, and who’s to say what exactly constitutes such a thing? And who’s to say which jobs a probable rapist is morally fit for?

  7. Also Concerned says:

    Just glanced at The Guardian online – Goodwillie won’t sign for Raith Rovers after all. The club “got it wrong”. Guess Goodwillie will have to find a job he’s ‘morally fit’ for now. Perhaps Bella and contributors can advise what that might be…

    1. David B says:

      I’d advise that it should be one that doesn’t require having ‘fans’. The entire business model of pro football is based on fans – not customers. It’s therefore fundamentally different to most other businesses. Raith Rovers fans don’t switch to East Fife if they offer a better football ‘product’ or lower ticket prices. The object of football fans’ fandom is a club and players who they adore – and many have made clear they don’t want to adore a man who was found to have raped a woman.

      Let’s be clear – footballers choose the profession in large part because they get crowds cheering them and singing their name. If they want to stay in the profession then they must abide by some basic standards.

      1. Also Concerned says:

        The fact is that this (now aborted) transfer has stirred up strong feelings that have been latent during the years Goodwillie has been at Clyde. People who believe that he has not been sufficiently punished for his crime may feel they have won a victory here. But this is not justice. Goodwillie is entitled to make a living. If he can’t do it playing football, he’ll have to do something else. What? You suggest something without ‘fans’. Teaching? Social work? Nursing? Is he ‘morally fit’ for these jobs? Where is the line to be drawn? By whom?

        1. David B says:

          No he obviously shouldn’t be in a career that involves unsupervised working with vulnerable groups. That leaves about a thousand other possible careers – anything from architect to refuse collector – it’s really up to him and his prospective employers. But Raith Rovers fans and sponsors were going to be the ones paying his wages and made it clear they didn’t want to do that. That is their prerogative.

          There are examples out there of footballers who have pleaded guilty to offences, served their sentence, shown genuine remorse then continued their football career – sometimes while trying to help others avoid the same mistakes. This is not one of those cases.

          1. @ David B says:

            Why not? He’s not on the sex offenders register. Because he didn’t face a criminal prosecution, he’s not subject to the same sanctions as those who have actually been convicted of rape and faces no penalties under the law further to the damages he was ordered to pay on the balance of probabilities. A change in the law would be required before he’d be ineligible to work with vulnerable groups.

          2. Also Concerned says:

            That’s very clear thanks David. Nothing with ‘fans’. Nothing with ‘vulnerable groups’ – ‘obviously’. About a thousand jobs to choose from, possibly more if Goodwillie shows ‘genuine remorse’.

          3. David B says:

            Good luck explaining that to the hypothetical parents of the hypothetical kids at the hypothetical school where he hypothetically ends up teaching.

            Regardless of his PVG status, an employer would have a duty of care to their vulnerable service users, and with the findings of the court case so clearly a matter of public record I doubt he’d be able to pursue one of these careers. Refusing him a job would not be a breach of any protected characteristic. Like I say, there are hundreds of other careers.

            Please can we also remember that he is not the victim (or indeed the plaintiff) here?

          4. @ David B says:

            Indeed, and if I was on the recruitment and selection panel for any organisation to which he applied for a job or a volunteering opportunity, I’d be looking for the panel to gather more evidence to inform its risk assessment and to use that risk assessment (among other things – e.g. the contribution that employment or volunteering might make to his rehabilitation) to inform it decision as to whether to recruit him or not. I wouldn’t just write him off prejudicially.

            And he is the victim here; it’s he who has been denied by public pressure the opportunity to take up new employment with Raith Rovers after due process. What he might or might not have done in the past doesn’t cancel his rights; no one has demonstrated that he remains a risk to vulnerable groups, nor that any such risk couldn’t be managed.

          5. Also Concerned says:

            Goodwillie is very much the victim ‘here’, i.e. in the matter under discussion. He is the victim of a sanctimonious mob whose combined actions have harmed his prospects of making a living. I don’t need to be reminded of Goodwillie’s victim, and this whole sorry affair does not constitute any kind of ‘justice’ for her.

          6. He is not the victim of a sanctimonious mob – he is the victim of nothing at all, other then reluctant change of mind of a clueless board steered by the PR disaster of their own making and the grim calculations they presumably have been making. As previous have said there are 1000 other career options.

          7. @ Bella Caledonia Editor says:

            Well, he is a ‘victim’ insofar as public pressure has denied him the opportunity to take up new employment with Raith Rovers after due process.

            Perhaps, the distinction we’re looking for here is that between ‘deserved’ and ‘undeserved’ victimhood. Perhaps, what we want to say is that Goodwillie is a deserved victim of vigilantism while Miss M is an undeserved victim of rape.

      2. @ David B says:

        I’m a football fan rather than someone who self-identifies with a ‘tribe’. I switched from going to watch football at Palmerston Park to Brunton Park because the English League 2 offered a better football ‘product’ than that offered by the Scottish Championship. That said, when I’m feeling my age and canna be *rs*d catching three buses into Carlisle, I sometimes go down and shout on the Creesiders in the SoSFL.

    2. @ Also Concerned says:

      Perhaps, now that the transfer to Raith has fallen through, he could return to ply his trade with Clyde, for whom he signed in 2017 and became club captain in 2019. It’s not as if he hasn’t enjoyed success there; it was while he was with Clyde that he was shortlisted for Player of the Year and named in the Team of the Year for League Two at the PFA Scotland awards for season 2018–19. And he was Clyde’s Player of the year in both season 2017-18 and season 2018-19.

      1. @ Also Concerned says:

        Incidentally, Clyde is 100% owned by its fans.

      2. Derek Thomson says:

        You are David Goodwillie and I claim my £5.

  8. Also Concerned says:

    I hope for Goodwillie’s sake that whatever his next move is, he’s ‘morally fit’ for it. No doubt Bella (and perhaps the First Minister) will let us know.

  9. Also Concerned says:

    I think we’ve got to the bottom of this now – rapists deserve vigilantism (Bella Editor).

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